Woodinville’s city council is expected to approve its first policy regarding surveillance cameras this week, paving the way for the installation of the technology in public areas around town.
City leaders authorized spending $55,000 on the cameras earlier this year, but only now have crafted a framework for how the cameras will operate, who has control and how they will be seen.
“Anything we do in the public domain is being observed already,” said Woodinville Deputy Mayor Liz Aspen, “There’s a lot of different scenarios that you can use video surveillance that tends to enhance.”
Woodinville’s policy only allows video to be stored for thirty days, then it is erased, “unless the video footage is being retained as part of a police investigation, court proceeding (criminal or civil), internal investigation, public disclosure request, criminal or civil process or other use as approved by the Chief of Police”.
The cameras will not be continuously monitored.
At this point, it is unclear how many cameras will be installed and where they will be. Aspen said in all likelihood, major roads will be the focus of the cameras. She added some of the cameras could be portable, but there will be signage around the city.
Nationwide, surveillance cameras have drawn strong criticism, chiefly from the American Civil Liberties Union. In a letter to Woodinville in May, the ACLU wrote the technology “do not prevent crime and violate the privacy” of private citizens.
Mayor Bernie Talmas, a lawyer, was the only dissenting voice on the surveillance cameras during the discussion in May. He did not return calls for comment.
Aspen believed the cameras should be installed by the end of 2013.